For Example…

When multi-channel data enters the system through the Context Adapter, it can either go through the Data Processing Layer, the Context Service, or the Event Stream Processor.

Depending on which entry path is taken, the data might pass through the Dispatcher and Message Bus, or possibly the Context Gateways and Enrichment Services, ultimately residing in the Core Customer Profile,* which you might then leverage through the Analytics Layer or, really the point of the whole exercise, through the Consumption Layer.

For example…

Mr. Customer, when Sue your consumer sends out a tweet referencing your brand with a few not-so-polite hash-tags, we can capture that tweet, its context, and determine its negative sentiment.  Isn’t that an important insight?

When we start to match up Sue’s Twitter handle with other hints and clues and customer data we’ve gathered through other channels like your web store and her order, we can put two and two together and realize the product was likely damaged in shipping.  Now wouldn’t Sue love to hear from you to rectify the situation?  Wouldn’t her next tweet be in praise of your brand?  Isn’t that the kinds of customer service that will differentiate you from your competition?

Both of these sections tell the same story.

If you’ve got an amazing innovation that took a few ingenious and technological leaps and bounds to create, you’d better give your audience a few examples of how it all works.  They simply haven’t caught up with you yet.  Telling Sue’s story helps your audience realize that there’s a missing piece.  They’ll suddenly know what a Context Gateway is and why they want one.

 

*Only after passing through the Secure Access Layer, naturally.

Tagged , , ,

Investigative Reporter

The joy is in the research, the discovery, the crafting, the thinking.

And when you make a series of calls like Redford as Woodward in All the President’s Men, you’re an investigative reporter hot on the trail of a lead.  From witness to sales rep to product manager to customer, you’re digging up clues and finding the real scoop.

Your story will make the difference for the customer.

The research will save you a lot of time in the sales process.

 

Tagged , ,

Record It

You invest a lot of effort learning solutions, understanding the marketplace needs, and preparing for presentations.

Why not save this effort by recording it?

Tools like Camtasia can capture your screen and even a cheap USB microphone records broadcast-quality sound.  If you spend an afternoon learning the basics of the Camtasia editor, you’ll learn to cut, zoom, pan, and merge media clips together into a tight, professional video.*  Now you have a backup, a leave-behind, a promotional video, and a growing library of recordings you can depend on down the road.

You might also want to record yourself as you learn.

Turn on the recorder as you work through product marketing presentations of the latest releases.  As you read through them, you can practice explaining the concepts to pretend customers or work out use-cases and examples.  Record yourself as you set up demo data or walk through standard scripts and you’ll always have a reference for those intricate bits.  You may never edit (or even look at!) these recordings, but they’ll be there for future reference.  You’ll be surprised how quickly you recall your thought processes and understanding as you review them.  You’ll be ready to share them with others who are starting down paths you’ve already covered.

And that’s the return on your investment.

*You can even add ukulele background music, if you must.
Tagged , , , , , ,

Solve the Problem or Change the Game?

Solution Engineer. Solution Consultant.  Solution Advisor.

Different titles for the same role,* but our common skill is taking a matrix of information and experience and solving problems.  When challenged to solve for X, we’ll provide the right answer and we’ll factor efficiency, access, cost, time, and other considerations into our mix.  Solution consulted, advised and engineered.

But.

How often do we think about solving for Y instead?  Can we look at the data and see a bigger picture? Can we suggest a different vision to the customer?

That might be when we become Pre-Sales.

* How many have you had on your business cards through the years?
Tagged , ,

Oh the Places You’ll Go

Literally.

In Pre-Sales you travel once every week or three.

Over the years you’ll get to know your way around major cities and make some long drives into the smaller ones.  You’ll develop your travel habits; where you put your car keys in your bag, which floor of the parking garage you prefer, hotel brands, when you’ll do your ironing.

Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia, San Diego, Hartford, Palo Alto, San Francisco, Orlando, Pittsburgh, Charlotte.

Germany, Spain, Holland.

Multiple times.

Take some pictures!

Tagged

Captain’s Case

The captain has a case.  The doctor has a bag.  The mechanic has a toolbox.

What’s in your Pre-Sales kit?

  • Computer technology: Laptops, tablets, and phones.
  • Peripherals: USB charging cables, wireless mice, video projector dongles, presentation clickers, laser-pointers, cat-5 cables,* external batteries, laptop chargers, mi-fi devices, USB drives
  • Tools: LED flashlights, sonic screwdrivers, post it notes, pens, pencils,
  • Entertainment: headphones.  So many pairs of headphones. Bluetooth headsets, soduko books, Kindle books, real books, juggling balls, sun glasses.  Ever carry a cribbage board?  It comes in handy during layovers in Montreal.
  • Pharmaceuticals: Advil, Aleve, Sudafed, vitamins and minerals, tissues and napkins, ear plugs, water, candy bars, protein bars.
  • Spare change: The national debt of Liberia, last time I checked, comprised of mixed coins from foreign lands, guitar picks, and an eclectic collection of lint and candy wrappers.
  • Identification: passports, business cards, corporate ID, boarding passes, loyalty membership cards

There’s hardly an audio/visual situation we can’t rescue by rummaging about our bags and pulling out what’s needed, like a grandmother with a piece of Juicy-fruit gum.  Within our wheeled* kits we have everything needed to stand up our soap-boxes on the business street-corner.  So preach your stories, brothers and sisters!

*Remember when we had those retractable modem-cables to sync our email?
**You wouldn’t carry this stuff around in a backpack, would you?  What, are you still in grade school?
Tagged , ,

Save the Day

Often, too often, the agenda is not clear, the audience is not understood, and the purpose of the meeting hasn’t been communicated.

As Pre-Sales it is our responsibility and delight to save the day:

  • Determine what the audience is there to learn
  • Volunteer to take over
  • Grab their attention and bring them value.
  • Be brilliant and brief

Look at that.  You’ve been memorable.

Tagged , , , , ,

The other side of the bed

We’re creatures of habit and convenience.

It might be the view to the television, the wall the bed is near, or just a matter of how the room is laid out, but in a given hotel room, most of the guests naturally get into the bed on a certain side.

Travel tip:

For a better night’s sleep, slide on over to check out the other side of the bed.  You may discover a practically unused section of the mattress.  Instant room upgrade!

Goodnight and pleasant dreams, road warriors.

Tagged , ,

Your Signature

You’re in a customer-engaging role.  Make it easy for a customer to contact you.

Your signature:

  • Should
    • always be included in email correspondence
    • be configured on your desktop, tablet, and phone*
    • provide your name, title, preferred phone number in a clickable format, and email address
  • Could
    • list professional titles and certifications
    • include your street address
    • have a link to a targeted website landing page**
    • include a quote or marketing slogan
  • Might
    • include timely promotion of an event or industry award
    • be better if it didn’t include pleas for causes that aren’t related to your business
*Why advertise for iPhone and Verizon on every email?
**Don’t give them the corporate home page.  They can guess that.  Point them toward a page about your area of expertise, or a customer story
Tagged , , ,

Gazing into the hazy future

Editor’s note: This post went running off into a direction I did not expect when I sat down to write about the role of Pre-Sales in the near future.  My pre-determined conclusion was “of course Pre-Sales will always be needed.  We help explain complex stuff to people in the sales process.”  We’re the last role you can afford to get rid of in Enterprise Software sales, or sales of any significant capital investment in technology.

But what if the premises change?  What if enterprise technology is no longer a capital investment?  What if it’s not complex?

Well, that’s something else entirely, isn’t it?

Below, I begin to track the direction the marketplace in which we live and operate is headed by considering technology, licensing, and usability trends.  It’s incomplete; there’s a lot of thinking to be done here.  I’ll be chasing these scrambling ideas and trying to catch up with them.  Stay tuned.

In the meantime…

Applications, modules, technology stacks, open platforms, open source, third party solutions, cloud, integration, APIs, web-services, micro-services, everything as a service, internet of things, predictive, data, digital, speed, experience, social.

Stop the ride, I want to sit down until the spinning goes away.

Where are information technology systems headed?  How will these business-process transactional systems and data repositories function five, ten years hence?*

  • Software is on a vector of becoming more encapsulated into services, securely and scalably available on-demand, in the cloud, without the need for massive technology stacks, efficient database design, code-level customizing.  There’s one codebase, one multi-tenant instance of that code.  The debugging and support of that is centralized to the owners and creators of that code instead of the users.
  • User interfaces are being simplified in process and access toward the common usability of tablet and phone: swipe, tap, hold, voice-operated commands, share, transient notification, bookmark, options-menu and escape.
  • Decisions are moving from IT-guided to line-of-business owned.  The ultimate destination would therefore be individual user choice.  If you can pick your own phone and arrange your own apps for personal use, why not pick your own processes and personal suite of applications for the office?
  • System to system, process to process, and transaction to analysis orchestration has moved from coding to configuration to wizard-based configuration.  Why couldn’t an individual user authenticated into an enterprise domain self-configure through context-aware wizards rather than it being a back office task?
    • Why wouldn’t a user be able to string enterprise services together ad-hoc, following their whim, such as engaging a customer into a marketing message, checking on their accounts payable status, then running them through a prediction of loyalty, all to serve the user’s needs in preparation for a phone call (which would itself be automatically logged back into the enterprise-domain’s expansive knowledge base?
    • These concepts are possible today, but on a macro scale, rigidly built to a process; it’s efficient mass-marketing through better intelligence.  The difference here is the individual enterprise user could leverage all of this information on their own, coordinate it on the fly, to their need, and to the prospect’s need.
  • Consumption is moving from permanent user licenses to annual subscriptions to rate-charging.  How many minutes/transactions/reports did you use this month?
  • The structure of enterprise systems is dictated by data, by transactions, by form-based processing of data and transactions.  But that very structure limits users to safe processes which serve the systems, not the other way around.  Systems serve regulatory, transactional, and executive information needs.  They are still in their infancy in serving end user needs or even the needs of the business partners tracked and transacted about in the systems.
    • If the back office needs structure and transactions and data, those needs can be defined as expected outputs of individual user-centric software components.  Every piece of Lego has a stud to connect it to the others. Every  financial transaction has an account and a debit or credit.
    • We’re serving the transaction and the data.   What does the rest of the body that meets at the connecting point look like?
  • In an on-demand, easy-to-use, rate-charged world where end users can pick what they need, the user’s purchase decision (the sale) will be referential and experimental.  Users will keep the ones that work, the ones they like.

This isn’t Enterprise Software; it’s, um, what’s the word? User-ware?  Role-soft? Enterprise Self Service? The Autonomous Enterprise Backbone? The Individual Enterprise? The Enterprise of Individual Contributors?**

Will the world even need Pre-Sales in the not too distant future?  Is that the right question?

Consider this: as decision, configuration, and use passes from Coder to Consultant to IT to Line of Business to Individual Actor, it will have to pass through a phase where a subject matter and technical expert can define business solutions on the fly and on behalf of an end user.  You know, another common title for Pre-Sales is Solution Consultant.  Maybe the technology is simply catching up to us?  Will this be the phase to hang out our shingles and bring together everything we know for our clients by using off the shelf services?

*Nearly twenty years ago I predicted that Amazon would have storefronts everywhere within two years and blow Barnes and Noble and Borders off the face of the earth.  I was spectacularly wrong.
** I’d better trademark some of these and write a book.
Tagged , ,
%d bloggers like this: